Your maternity leave, pay and other rights

Holiday and maternity leave

You still build up ('accrue') your usual holiday entitlement during maternity leave.

You should talk with your employer as early as possible to agree how and when to take your holiday entitlement, including any you'll accrue while on maternity leave.

What you need to do when planning maternity leave

When you know you're going to be taking maternity leave, you should agree with your employer:

  • how much holiday you'll accrue before and during your planned maternity leave
  • when you're going to take your accrued holiday
  • how much you can carry over, if appropriate
  • if you have contractual holiday, whether you can get payment in lieu of taking the days that are additional to statutory

When you should take your holiday

You must take your holiday at a different time to your maternity leave.

You and your employer can agree to add your holiday to the beginning or end of your maternity leave, so that you get holiday pay for that time.

By law, your employer must allow you to take your statutory holiday entitlement during the holiday year. If they do not allow you to take your holiday because of your sex or because of pregnancy and maternity, it could be discrimination.

It's important to plan as early as possible with your employer when you'll take your holiday entitlement.

Once you and your employer have agreed how and when you'll take your holiday, it's a good idea to ask your employer to put it in writing.


Your contract gives statutory holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks.

You're planning to take a year of maternity leave. You meet with your line manager to plan how to take your holiday. Your manager talks through all the options, taking into consideration:

  • how it'll affect your workload and the rest of the team
  • when in the holiday year you'll be going on maternity leave and coming back to work

Your options could be to take:

  • some of your holiday entitlement in the months leading up to your maternity leave and some in the months after you return to work
  • all of your holiday for the year before you start maternity leave
  • some of your holiday before you go on maternity leave and then add some to the end of your maternity leave so you have more time off and get holiday pay instead for that time
  • most of your holiday when you return from maternity leave, and carry some into the next holiday year

Carrying over holiday

You should usually take all your legal minimum (statutory) holiday in the holiday year. But if you're unable to use it because you're on maternity leave for a whole holiday year or most of a holiday year, your employer should allow you to carry it over.

If your contract gives you more holiday than the statutory amount, your employer may allow:

  • carrying over some into the next holiday year
  • payment instead ('in lieu') of taking it

Whether you carry over any holiday to the next holiday year could depend on how far through the current holiday year you are when you return to work after maternity leave.

For example, if you're going to take 6 months' maternity leave and will be returning to work with 1 month left of the holiday year, you should arrange with your employer to make sure you can take your holiday in that month.

Find out more about holiday entitlement